Murray’s ability to anticipate the play
Because the Penguins threw 41 shots on net, there might be a lot of ‘Jonathan Bernier stole two points for the Leafs out there’, but the reality is Matthew Murray stole a point for Pittsburgh.
The rookie netminder was tremendous in making 34 stops, including three breakaway saves, two in the third period.
Murray reads shooters so well and what scouts rave about Murray is a special ability on anticipating the play.
I’ve wrote about this in the past of how scouts view a goaltenders ability to anticipate the play as a great barometer for projecting success for a goaltender and that’s been the No. 1 area that catches the attention of evaluators with Murray.
When you combine that with Murray’s athleticism and size, you have the makings of a long-term No. 1 goaltender.
The Penguins have not missed Marc Andre Fleury one bit. If the Penguins were to get a General Manager in place this summer who has a long-term vision, a good one wouldn’t be against selling high on Fleury and going cheap in goal to upgrade the roster in other areas with the return for Fleury and saved dollars by going with Murray and a low-cost veteran netminder as the goaltending tandem.
Entertaining Hockey, No Results
The Penguins under Mike Sullivan have become much more entertaining. The system resembles Dan Bylsma’s to some extent and the forwards are releasing up ice much quicker leading to the Penguins playing with more pace off the rush.
Part of that is also because of a change in structure in the d-zone that has the centers exiting the zone higher. Under Johnston, there was a fixation on the center supporting the d-men down low and behind the net to defend the cycle at almost all times.
Now the centers’ are more in a read and react situation whether to provide support below the net or not, similar to a centers role under Bylsma.
We saw again tonight the systematic changes in place led to a more offensive brand of hockey.
What the Penguins are not getting is results under Sullivan, just two wins in eight games, no 5 v 5 goals last two games, and they’re playing dangerous hockey.
The Penguins were the chasing the game. Toronto jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, got the Penguins on their heels early and then it was back and forth from there.
The Penguins showed a good response and outshot Toronto 20-8 in the second period. A superior team like the Penguins are supposed to be should be building off that period and putting a team like the Leafs that is playing in back-to-backs away in the third.
It never happened in the third for Pittsburgh and situations like that this season are why the Penguins are currently not in a playoff spot.
Instead the Penguins were extremely sloppy with the puck, giving up two breakaways and several high danger scoring chances in the third period.
All season we’ve been waiting for this group to find another level and the third period was another example where it’s been missing more often than not on a nightly basis.
With the entertaining hockey and high shot totals, I’m sure some and maybe a majority will be looking at this game as a positive for the Penguins but the reality is there was more bad than good from the Penguins’overall play.
Bernier was really good but against one of the worst goaltenders in the NHL in being able to square up shooters and take proper angles, the Penguins were not consistent enough in taking away Bernier’s sight lines.
The Dallas Stars don’t just score a ton because they are one of the NHL’s most skilled teams. They also score so often because they are one of the best teams in the league at taking a goaltenders sight lines away. It starts with Jamie Benn who is the closest thing to Eric Lindros over the last 20 years.
That comes back to how this Penguins’ team is built and why a coaching change might be a start to putting a better foundation in place in how they should be playing, but there’s a personnel issue at the forward ranks that is going to have the Penguins struggling to earn a playoff spot. Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"